Martial Arts

Traditional Karate Training Equipment {Full List}

Today we are going to venture into the past, ever wondered what training equipment traditional karate practitioners used? Well if you have, fret not we’ve got you covered my friend. Today we will be listing all the traditional karate training equipment that my shotokan karate sensei knows.

Traditional Karate Training Equipment {Full List}

What Was The Purpose Of Traditional Karate Training Equipment

The purpose of traditional karate training equipment is pretty much the same as any modern martial art training equipment. The training equipment helps with:

  • Conditioning the the striking area
  • Having a physical object to strike
  • Improving your aim
  • Empowering your techniques
  • Improving the execution of your technique
  • Strengthening your body
  • Increasing your striking speed

As you can see karate training equipment, can really help you up your karate game. Most probably modernised karate training equipment should have improved over the traditional. This is because more time has been devoted into crafting better and improved training equipment.

Though today we are going to be ignoring the modern karate equipment and just focus on the traditional karate training equipment. We’re going back to see what our great ancestors had crafted, the birth of karate training equipment. Without these great pieces, the modern training equipment would not be what it is today. So let’s all show respect for these amazing devices.

List Of Traditional Karate Training Equipment

Here’s the complete traditional karate training equipment list:

1) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Chi Ishi

The Chi Ishi is simply a stone attached to a piece of wood. This piece of equipment was used as a way to develop upper body strength. If your interested to know how it was used to develop upper body strength, here’s a video by a great martial artist. Explaining how the chi ishi works, while showing us some Chi Ishi exercise drills.

2) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Ishi Sashi

The Ishi Sashi the second piece of traditional karate training equipment we’re going to be talking about. The Ishi Sashi purpose is quite similar to that of the Chi Ishi, to build upper body strength. If your planning to take a traditional approach towards your upper body strength. It is important to implement all the upper body equipment as different upper body strength training equipment target different parts of the upper body.

The Ishi Sashi looks like a piece a rock with a convenient handel around it. Due to the fact that the weight is more balanced than the previous equipment we discussed this piece is equally easier for beginners to use. At least until they develop some upper body strength. If your interested more about the Ishi Sashi, here’s a great video by Gima Tetsu Sensei showing us how to properly use the Ishi Sashi.

3) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Jari Bako

This is a more simple piece of equipment, in a nutshell it’s sand in a bucket. It’s not really a traditional karate training equipment as a lot of okinawa martial artists used this exercise. Though non the less traditional karate practitioners still used this exercise to improve there gripping power and forearm strength.

If your interested in seeing more about this piece of equipment, here’s a great video by stronger grips.

4) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Kongoken

The Kongoken is another traditional karate training equipment, that looks like a really awkward piece of metal. Because of it’s awkwardness, the person using it had to move a lot of different muscles to control it. Dus giving you a full body workout on it own.

As we already stated, the kongoken work your whole body:

  • Upper body strength
  • Core
  • Lower body strength

They are also used as ways for students to bond with. As there are a lot of exercises where 2 people can use 1 kongoken to pass it around for example, or carry ones weight with. If your interested on how this great piece of traditional karate training equipment was used. Here’s a video showing what the Kongoken is and some exercises that go along with it.

5) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Makiage Kigu

Essentially the Makiage Kigu is, simply a piece of wood with a string attached to a weight. The person using the makiage kigu holds the wooden rod in front of him, while rotating the wooden piece so that the weight would start to come up.

The purpose of this exercise is to increase the strength of your wrists. Here’s a video demonstrating how one should use such an equipment. Though the equipment used in the video, is a more modern version of the traditional karate training equipment we all love.

6) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Makiwara

The Makiwara, I remember having one of those when I was a kid. Wonder what ever happened to it, anyways all the Makiwara is, is a piece of flat wooden board. It was like the traditional punching bag.

Unlike the punching bag though. The Makiwara is only hit with the fist and elbow. Usually they cover the upper part where you strike with either foam or straw to make the hit less destructive towards the hands and elbows. Especially for the lower belt karate level students.

The main purpose of the Makiwara is to provide a hittable target and to condition the striking area. Having a hittable target obviously improves your aim and also if your hitting something your hands start to get used to the pain. Unlike if you were to hit the air all the time.

Here’s a video of the great Sensei Drew Kennedy, showing us different techniques that we could use on the Makiwara.

7) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Nigiri Game

The Nigiri Game is essentially just a traditional ceramic jar. The exercise was to hold the jar by the lid and than do different types of exercises wile holding the ceramic jars.

The purpose of this traditional karate training equipments was to improve grip, arm, core and leg strength. Essentially you were using every part of your body while doing this traditional exercise.

When the exercise became easy, one would put sand in the jar to increase the amount of resistance the jar posses. This obviously makes the exercise harder therefore developing even bigger muscles.

If you would like to see a great video by the Shudokan Family Karate showing how to properly do this exercise. Here’s a great video doing just that.

8) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Sagi Makiwara

This piece of traditional karate training equipment is quite similar to that of Makiwara. The main difference in the equipment is that the Makiwara is stationary while the Sagi Makiwara resembles more the modern punching bag.

It’s basically a punching bag made out of wood, this makes the Sagi Makiwara harder to use for beginners. So if you never used a punching bag I’d recommend trying that before going for the Sagi Makiwara.

As for it’s training benefits, there quite similar to the stationary version of this training equipment. With an added benefit of it swinging around so you’d have to aim and dodge when the Sagi Makiwara comes back after you. Giving you a more movable target to strike.

Here’s a great video showing us how the Sagi Makiwara looks and should be used.

9) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Taketaba

Another classical piece of equipment that was used by older karate practitioners. The taketaba was basically a bunch of bamboo sticks placed together in a fashion that was not to tight nor to lose.

This made it perfect for karate students to practice spear hand strikes. The Taketaba provides you with a great resistance for your fingers, that other traditional karate training tools could not because of the fact that they were to hard to strike with the spear hand strike technique.

10) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Tan

The Tan is basically the classical version of the barbell. The difference is purely how it was made. Todays barbells are made with iron while the tan was made with wood and stone.

Much like the modern version of this traditional martial arts training equipment, the Tan can be used in various exercises to pretty much strengthen the whole the body.

11) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Tetsu Geta

The Tetsu Geta, you’ve probably seen this being used in multiple movies. The Tetsu Geta is sandals made out of metal or other heavy materials. To be honest with you, I don’t think this is a great exercise to do. With all the studies related to bad footwear and joint/leg damage, I really doubt metal sandals have the correct dimensions a shoe should have for your feet.

Anyways ask your doctor not just your sensei before doing this exercise. This pretty much applies for the whole article, always make sure that someone who knows what he’s doing is properly supervising you.

The idea behind the Tetsu Geta was that if your training while being restricted with the added weight. Imagine how fast you’d be once you removed them. It makes sense tough I’m no doctor, but as I said I’d be wary of this exercise.

12) Traditional Karate Training Equipment – Ude Makiwara

Like the Makiwara, the Ude Makiwara is a stationery wooden piece of equipment that’s used as a hitting target. The main difference between the Makiwara and the Ude Makiwara is that the Makiwara is a flat piece of wood while the Ude Makiwara is a round piece of wood.

The purpose of the Ude Makiwara is that, it provides with with a bigger technique skill set you could use. While making it possible to move around it while striking. As for the benefits of using this traditional karate training equipment is basically the same as that of the makiwara.

Concluding The Full list Of Traditional Karate Training Equipment

Those are all the traditional karate training tools that I and my master know of. If you happen to know of other great pieces of equipment used by karate practitioners back in the day feel free to add them in the comments section down below. I hope you enjoyed this article and always make sure to practice safely and under supervision.

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Traditional Karate Training Equipment {Full List}
Article Name
Traditional Karate Training Equipment {Full List}
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Find out everything you want to know about traditional karate training equipment. We are going to discuss all 12 of these tools. With videos showing how one should use such equipment, understanding which parts these pieces strengthen, modern versions one can buy or use at the gym as a replacement and much more.
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Martial Arts Nerd
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